May is National Walking Month and a great time to get out and about with better weather and summer on its way. Here at the Horniman Museum we host Lewisham Healthy Walks - part of an NHS initiative to get people outdoors, keeping fit and healthy and socialising though friendly, local walking groups.
Every Thursday a lovely friendly group of people meet at the Horniman to take a leisurely walk around the gardens. Many regular members of the group live locally and have grown up in and around Forest Hill and are big fans of the Horniman Museum and Gardens.
Although some people might be put off by the steep hills, this is exactly the reason that makes the Horniman Gardens so popular with the Healthy Walkers. Walking up the hill makes this particular walking group a bit more like hard work, but a great way to get exercise!
Once a month the Museum hosts a ‘tea and talk’ for group members after the walk where the Healthy Walkers get to meet staff from behind the scenes at the Museum. Highlights over the past year for the group have included find out all about corals with Jamie, our aquarium keeper, learning about conservation with Charlotte and Julia in the conservation labs and having a tour of the library with Helen and Gill, our Horniman librarians.
As well as the beautiful display gardens, the walkers often venture on to the Horniman Nature trail which is a world away from the hustle and bustle of London, yet just hidden away at the bottom of the gardens.
Although the group is open to all to join, many come to it for health reasons referred to by their GPs.
Nina wanted to share her story:
"I was diagnosed with heart failure in January 2007. Following medical treatment I had an 8 week exercise, nutritional and lifestyle course at Lewisham Hospital. After this I attended active heart sessions and have continued these at Forest hill Pools. A friend of mine who had been a leader told me about Lewisham Healthy Walks and I did try Ladywell Fields and Wells Park but having been to Horniman Park I decided this was the one for me. Starting on the flat and then a steep incline it seemed perfect. I liked the idea of group walking with a trained leader to look after us. The discipline of regular walking and the social contact benefit s health and wellbeing (I mean making friends!) After many years I still enjoy it, seeing the changes through the seasons and all weathers and the changes in the park. It also links into my memories of the park and museum with my parents and siblings. Plus, mow we have monthly sessions at the end of the walk with a cup of tea, biscuits and fruit, but more importantly talks from the education staff which are always interesting. Thank you Horniman Museum and Park and Jenny Budd."
Contact Jenny Budd the Healthy Walk Coordinator for Lewisham for more information about their programme of walks across the borough: Telephone 020 3049 3485 or email jenny.budd[@]nhs.net
Find out more about Healthy Walks at www.wfh.naturalengland.org.uk/walkfinder
And more about National Walking Month at http://www.livingstreets.org.uk/